A woman and her child at the safe haven in Kakuma, Kenya. (Jesuit Refugee Service)
A woman and her child at the safe haven in Kakuma, Kenya. (Jesuit Refugee Service)

Kakuma – Access to formal education can improve the wellbeing of refugees in camps, and significantly develops their skills and knowledge. The young girls in the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Safe Haven shelter are enthusiastic about their education despite the harsh conditions in the camp. Many have been able to enroll in respected schools inside and outside of the camp due to JRS’s advocacy for girl’s education. Through partnerships with agencies that offer educational scholarships and courses focused on self-esteem and livelihood development, girls have been able to claim their right to an education.

Pauline*, a young mother from South Sudan, was forced to run away from home after her step father tried to force her to marry. After leaving her country and facing threats from various members of her community, she was admitted into the Safe Haven shelter in Kenya. Pauline has attended many activities and trainings offered at the shelter, and now has hope for her future.

The Safe Haven courses have been a great benefit to me, both in vocational skills and as a new mom.
Pauline*, JRS Safe Haven beneficiary

Realising the importance of education for refugees, the Safe Haven programme gives opportunities to girls who face unjust challenges. In the last year, the programme has already provided access to formal education for 41 students. The educational opportunities give renewed hope for the future and a safe space to learn. JRS also supplies materials for school and therapy, such as textbooks, pens, shoes, toiletries, and uniforms to ensure they have all the material support they need to continue their education.

Other activities are organised at the Safe Haven shelter to further support girls’ education. The shelter hosts empowerment sessions for the girls to boost their confidence and gain peer support. Safe Haven not only teaches girls the importance of education in their lives, but also connects them with women from their community who have excelled academically. They give powerful testimonies to inspire the girls and offer their support as a resource. There is a strong link between protection and education, as education in itself is a tool for protection. With education girls can recognise and combat infringement of their rights and contribute to the development of their communities.

Young girls sit in a class on sexual and gender-based violence and self-esteem. (Jesuit Refugee Service)
Young girls sit in a class on sexual and gender-based violence and self-esteem. (Jesuit Refugee Service)

See more photos from the Safe Haven here.

*All names were changed for the privacy and safety of those involved.

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